In winter you will find many people enjoying a book in one of Budapest's coffee houses, while in summer many enjoy a good book while lazing in the sun at one of the city's parks. So if you're new to Budapest and suddenly feel a desire for the written word – don't panic. It's totally fine - it's not you, it's the city! For those book-lovers who don't speak Hungarian (yet?), there are a variety bookshops in Budapest that sell primarily (but not only) English-language books. Check out this list - you're sure to find a good read.
Atlantisz Book Island
Make sure you have enough free time to spend between the bookshelves at Atlantisz Book Island. A nice, two-storey, old-style bookshop in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest offers a large selection of books on social and human sciences, visual arts, architecture and travel from the best writers in the world. There's also a fine selection of central and eastern European non-fiction, as well as international fiction of course! The bookshop could probably be called an “intellectual island” for young thinkers, mature philosophers and poets at heart!
The first multi-language bookshop in Budapest (opened as a bookshop in 1995) has got a long-term reputation and long-term relationships with customers – many of them visit Bestsellers for years and even decades. The bookshop offers not only bestsellers, as one may think, but a wide, multi-language up-to-date range of fiction, non-fiction and periodicals. A significant place is taken by Hungarian literature in various translations. Started as a bookshop mainly for students, now Bestsellers attracts more and more expats living in Budapest and tourists visiting Budapest. At the end of the last year they started their own online shop.
A small and homelike bookstore in the 13th district offers new and second-hand books in English, German, French, Italian, Russian. Readers bring used books, readers take used books. Readers stop by for a chat with a shop assistant. At first glance, Bookstation is more like a book club than a bookshop but it's actually been around for years and celebrates its 10th birthday this month! All these years Bookstation has helped readers find good and inexpensive literature to enjoy. If not from the customers, books arrive from warehouses in Europe and the US. Bookstation will celebrate its birthday with discounts, although discounts are a kind of regular happy surprise here!
Address: 1137 Budapest, 13 Katona József Street
Located on the Ujpesti embankment of the Danube river, close to Jászai Mari Square, Famulus is a true find for students, teachers, tutors etc. This bookshop specialises in literature for learning and teaching languages. There are vocabulary books, exam materials, textbooks, short readings, business teaching materials and so on. Basically, everything that a linguist-to-be might dream about. It's no wonder that the main audience of Famulus is students and pupils, and universities and schools. From time to time older editions of textbooks, dictionaries and vocabulary books go on sale with good discounts.
1137 Budapest, Ujpesti rakpart 5.
Phone: +36 1 349 3656
Open: Monday - Thursday 8.30am - 6pm, Friday: 8.30am – 4pm, Sunday - closed
As an distributor of Oxford University Press, the bookstore sells the best examples of educational literature, including Oxford and Cambridge multi-language dictionaries, grammar books, students books, adapted and full versions of worldwide classics in English. Ordering books online is also an option or you can head in store at the Oxford Bookshop. If you are not a student anymore, you still can find something here – editions of Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, James Joyce, Alexander Dumat or Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Yellow Zebra is a second-hand English-language bookshop in Budapest that works as part of a tour company and bike rental spot. It's located behind the Hungarian State Opera building. In other words, you can buy a book and then rent a bike. Or just buy a good cheap pre-loved book and spend time reading in one of the nearby cafes. The bookshelves of Yellow Zebra hold all kinds of genres: romance, business, travel, self-help, crime fiction, bestsellers and so on. The main suppliers of the shop are people who trade in their unwanted books. Their main audience is tourists and expats. There is also a special shelf for books with a discount price (one book for 250 forints, five books for 1000 forints). If you trade in some of the books you no longer want you can get a reduced price on the books you buy.
Libraries with English-language literature
1093 Budapest Fővám Square 13-15.
Phone: +36 1 482 7578
Open: Monday: by appointment only, Tuesday and Thursday: 1pm – 7pm, Wednesday: 8am – 4pm, Friday: closed
British Council Corner
1088 Budapest, Szabó Ervin Square 1.
Phone: +36 1 411 5000
Open: Monday - Friday: 1pm – 7pm
1051 Budapest, Nador Street 9.
Phone: +36 1 327 3099
Open: Monday - Friday: 8am – 10pm, Saturday - Sunday: 1pm – 7pm